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hello, i'm sheinelle jones at msnbc world headquarters in new york. it's 1:00 in the east, 10:00 out west. now here's what's happening. president trump is at his mar-a-lago estate today reflecting on his high-stakes meeting with chinese president xi tweeting earlier tremendous good will and friendship was formed but only time will tell on trade. during his weekly address, the president made an attempt to reassure his supporters he would follow through with his campaign promise when dealing with foreign leaders like president xi. >> i have been clear about advocating for the national interests of the united states, something so important to me and so important to our people. one of the reasons certainly that i got elected. and i want to ensure that the decisions we make truly serve the safety and security of our citizens. our decisions will be guided by our values and our goals and we will reject the path of
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inflexible ideology that too often leads to unintended consequences. >> as the trump administration weighs further action in syria, democratic congresswoman tulsi gabbard, who met with president assad in january, has this warning on what the missile strikes could mean for the u.s./russia relations. >> syria is very closely allied with russia. russia has their military on the ground there. so what we're talking about here really is the very high potential for a direct military conflict between the united states and russia, the two world's nuclear powers risking, whether intentional or unintentional, nuclear consequences. >> let's go now to nbc's kelly o'donnell in palm beach, florida, today with the latest from the white house. kelly in just the last hour we've heard more from president trump on the syria strikes. what did he have to say? >> reporter: well, good afternoon, sheinelle. the president using twitter as he so often does to update us on his thinking. we haven't heard from him since
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his more sober remarks in the hours after the strike on the air base in syria. and now he's using twitter with a slightly different approach. congratulating the men and women in uniform who were part of that and then more broadly he says congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the united states and the world so well in the syria attack. of course that involved the navy and a smaller footprint but he extends those good wishes beyond that. in that commander in chief role, which is till something somewhat new to the president, close to 80 days in office. with a couple of notable calls that he had to make. the yemen raid and then the action in syria, at least those we publicly know about. the president trying to extend those good wishes. at the same time, he's left his mar-a-lago home, he is at his golf course in west palm beach. we presume golfing is included in that, although the white house has not officially said so, but it is a lovely day here in palm beach. and so as he does reflect on what has been a momentous week in his young presidency with a
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visit of president xi and you acknowledged his comments about that where he sees real potential in a new relationship and still tough issues to deal with, trade and monetary policy, he's also got a lot of the reaction coming in from around the world on his actions in syria. ally, of course, are giving him credit for taking a decisive step pretty quickly. there are those who are concerned about the broader strategy and raising questions about what really happens next. as you mentioned, congressman tulsi gabbard, who has real concerns about what could have happened if these strikes had not taken place in terms of an international review of assad's use of chemical weapons. he's degraded that capability by launching that assault but it is believed that assad still retains a lot of capability in regard to chemical weapons because the stockpiles were not all in that location. >> there's another hot topic people are buzzing about on this
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saturday. what can you tell us about the reports that a major white house staff shakeup is imminent, less than three months into the president's term? >> it seems like almost every week there is some sort of bubbling up of some of the tensions within the white house. we've seen it week after week. and they do reflect some of the competition that exists at the top in the white house structure, but at the same time we also have to measure those who are saying, no, not quite so fast. the current thinking is this. steve bannon, the chief strategist for the president and really represents that vocal populist kind of voice of the trump voter, there are reports that he was going to be, perhaps, leaving. no, no, no is what sources are saying. our team here, hallie jackson, kristen welker and myself working on this. we're being told that steve bannon really believes that he needs to remain in the white house as a voice to protect that trump voter and that kind of stronger ideology that the president may not always embrace but is largely responsible for getting him to the white house.
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one of the frustrations bannon has is there is sort of a rising kind of force in the white house as well from gary cohn who is an official at the white house and jared kushner, the son-in-law and senior advisor. bannon refers to both of them as the west wing democrats. they have been registered as democrats in the past. gary cohn still is. they represent a different sort of approach to how president trump should govern. so there is tension. they are also saying they can work together, they can be professional and they can continue to move forward on the president's agenda. part of the -- sort of the stirring of the pot we've seen, sheinelle, is when there are negative setbacks, like the failure on health care or the travel ban. some of the things that the president has taken a lot of criticism for. that always breeds a staff rumbling of who's up, who's down, who's responsible. and we do hear from sources close to the president that he likes to ask of his friends and his influence circle who they think is doing a good job and
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who's not. sheinelle. >> that makes for a tense situation sometimes. kelly o'donnell, thank you, kelly. now more on the syria strike. joining me now is marc ginsberg, a former diplomat with decades of experience in the middle east and diplomacy. ambassador, thank you for being here this afternoon. >> hi, sheinelle. >> you were president clinton's ambassador to morocco. do you at all think what we've heard from congresswoman tulsi gabbard is plausible, that it could lead to a military conflict with russia? >> well, there's always a chance of some conventional interference with the russians insofar as our efforts to stop assad from using his chemical weapons, but i think it's important to put this into context. i think this is a win-win in the long term for president trump and his policy on syria, because after all, sheinelle, our job number one in syria is to in effect eliminate isis from syria. and what we are trying to do and what i think the president's policy ultimately is going to
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achieve is to in effect embolden sunni moderates as well as our moderate sunni allies like jordan. after all, the king of jordan was just in washington the other day. for the president to try to construct the type of sunni military support that is necessary to in effect eliminate isis from syria. assad's forces have been attacking the very forces that we're trying to support to rid isis from syria. so putting him back in a box is very essential. sheinelle, the israelis have done this time and again. they have attacked a couple of air bases every time assad has gotten out of control. he's gone back into his box. that's a fair policy. >> is it fair to say this put him in a box, though? >> well, he's going to fight to the bitter end and the russians and iranian allies will do everything to support him. this attack in idlib province was against a moderate village that had been supporting moderate rebels. we're talking about non-isis,
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non-al qaeda rebels. nothing is going to put him back in a box. what we need to do is provide humanitarian relief without too many boots on the ground. >> you wrote in a column that president trump was right to point fingers at the obama administration. was president obama wrong to pursue a diplomatic resolution? and even if people want to support trump, every time he blames obama, people cringe and it's polarizing. is it wrong to pursue a diplomatic solution? >> the problem was that president obama didn't really pursue a diplomatic solution adequately without backing it up with the type of force necessary. i would dare say that the vast majority of democratic foreign policy experts hold the obama administration accountable for its failed syrian policy. those like me who did not want to see boots on the ground but humanitarian support for the air from those people -- for those people who were becoming
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refugees. even the obama administration dropped the ball consistently and john kerry dropped the ball by failing to in effect implement the very agreement that he claimed chemical weapons would be rid from syria. >> i just made you a congressman, boy the way, did you notice that? so president obama went to congress and congress said no. >> i don't agree with that. i think that north dakota end had he decided to enforce his red line and go to congress and ask for approval, he would have gotten that approval for the limited strike that he wanted to do in order to do precisely what president trump did just two days ago. >> well, when you listen to supporters and people who supported his decision, in addition to the diplomatic solution, there were concerns that it would run the risk of creating further chaos in the middle east. if it supports the removal of assad, then you leave a vacuum and what happens next. what would you say to those two thoughts? >> once upon a time i would have agreed with that proposition that assad was indispensable to
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creating some logical solution to the peace situation in syria. at this point in time he has killed over half a million people. there are six million people who are refugees. there is another shiite that can ultimately emerge in order for us to help bring about some negotiated settlement in syria. look, we're not going to bomb our way to a solution in syria, sheinelle. >> that's what i'm going for there. >> we're not going to do that and american boots on the ground are not going to solve syria's problem. we have only two jobs in syria. to do what we can to protect the humanitarian plight of refugees and do what we can to help our allies there, and two, to get rid of isis. assad's longevity is not our problem, but we need to do what we can to help accelerate his approval. >> what about the possibility of armed conflict with russia, if russia decides to retaliate. >> russia has military bases on the mediterranean. that's the essential reason why the russians are interested in maintaining assad's regime.
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they are just interested in carving out a corridor that exists between damascus and the mediterranean. serious fraction into six parts. it will never be put back together again. assad will be the number one target of the sunnis who want to extract vengeance for inflicting such tremendous harm on them. so the russians will be stuck with assad and i think they'll pay a price for staying with assad. >> thank you for your time. military options for north korea. nbc news learns of two secret options presented to president trump and they are controversial. (burke) at farmers, we've seen almost everything,
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with some of his most vocal opponents now comparing him to ronald reagan. here's what lindsey graham told my colleague, kasie hunt. >> i think he was repulsed as a human being by what assad was capable of doing. the children really moved him. and all i can say about this president, he has the instincts of ronald reagan in many ways. he's an emotional man, but he's also a very smart man. i think he feels that he did the right thing by those children. >> joining me now is democratic congressman john delaney. thank you for your time this afternoon. >> thanks for having me, sheinelle. >> first your reaction to that praise, comparing him to ronald reagan. >> well, look, i think it's probably early to start comparing president trump to president reagan, but i think senator graham is right. i think president trump's decision to launch this strike was largely a very personal, emotional decision that was
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obviously informed by what he saw in those horrific images coming out of that chemical attack. this is a very different position that he's now taking with syria than he had in the past. so he did make a very dramatic kind of pivot, if you will, toward syria. it had to be based, you know, based on his reaction from seeing what unfolded and also from the advice of his key advisers. so i think it's probably a little early to go down the path of comparing him to ronald reagan, but i do think it was an emotional response based on what he saw. >> you put out a statement saying the air strike sends a clear message that the united states is willing to hold assad accountable for his atrocities. i'll get to the rest of your reaction in a moment but i want to get you on record, should president trump have consulted congress before ordering the strike and should he send a new authorization for use of military force for further action in syria? >> i don't think he needed to consult with congress prior to this strike. but i do think at this point the time is right, we should come
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back into session this week and we should discuss the situation in syria. we should discuss more broadly what we're doing against the islamic state. and we should have a new authorization of military force for our efforts against terrorism and i think we should put one in place for whatever we decide to do in the future with syria. so i think for this initial kind of response, i think the president acted within his thoe authority. i don't think he had to go to congress. but now we know this has happened. since we don't know what assad's response will be or russia's response will be, i think we need a new authorization of military information not only for terrorism generally but also for the situation in syria. >> so then as you call on the white house to work on a strategy for syria. >> yes. >> are comments by nikki haley at the u.n. giving you a clearer sense of the administration's policy moving forward? >> no, not really. what she's basically said is the united states is prepared to do more but it also depends on what
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assad does. so that doesn't really tell us what they're thinking and are prepared to do and what the various options are based on if assad uses chemical weapons again, what we'll do, et cetera. she's obviously shown determination and she's being very firm with not only assad but with russia. but it doesn't give me any insight into what their plans are. that's why i think we need to have congress -- congress ultimately has the authorization. the president has limited ability to do things. i think what he did fits within his parameters, but i think at this point we do need to have the discussion in congress. i think it would be healthy for the country, i think it would be healthy for our foreign policy, and i think it would be healthy in terms of the president's relationship with the congress. >> what's your greatest concern about the administration's policy given this 180 we're seeing by the president? >> again, i think what the president did here was appropriate, so i'm happy with where he ended up. i didn't think his prior policies, which were to keep
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assad in power, were really the right answer. so you're always concerned when people make a 180-degree pivot. but the fact that he pivoted towards what i think is the right answer, i'm obviously pleased with that outcome. but you'd like some certainty. and that's why i think we need this discussion because i don't think we've had a full conversation with what our strategy is in syria. i think syria has been one of the great failures of our foreign policy and i think our failure to act early in that conflict and allow the civil war to kind of get to the point it is where half a million syrians have been killed, i think it's been a great failure of american foreign policy. so i think the country needs to come together with a real strategy to deal with this situation. >> what do you say to your colleague, tulsi gabbard, who's warning the administration that the military strikes will antagonize rubba a russia and l nuclear conflict with them. >> it will clearly antagonize
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russia but i think that's the point. they have clearly been supporting assad so i think russia is complicit with respect to these chemical attacks. that doesn't bother me that this potentially antagonizes russia, because i do think we need a firm pushback against russia. obviously anything is possible. i think the likelihood of this leading to a conflict between russia and the united states in my own opinion is very, very low. of course anything is possible. but i think that's a very low probability. and i think, again, this action relative to the very small probability of that happening i think was the right answer. >> finally looking forward here between syria and congress' investigation into russia's involvement in the u.s. election, what should we expect when secretary of state rex tillerson meets with russian officials, possibly even with president putin in moscow next week? >> what i'm hoping is that secretary tillerson is very firm with putin about what outcomes we want in syria and to get him to stop supporting assad so we can figure out through a
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diplomatic process how to get assad out of power and somehow restore some measure of stability to that region. we have a lot of issues in that region. we have our fight with the islamic state, which is top of the list. we have the refugee situation, which is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions and in my opinion the response of the united states of america has been inadequate as it relates to that. so i think we need to get russia to stop essentially propping up assad so that we can actually come to some orderly kind of settlement of what's gone on in that region, which as i said involves getting rid of the islamic state and restoring some type of stability without assad in power in the region. when you have a leader that continues to do these kind of things to his own people, you will never have stability in the region and the civil war will consume the whole country and ultimately the region. >> do you not have any concern about leaving a vacuum there? we talked to a contributor earlier who was concerned about
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al qaeda or isis stepping in to fill that void? >> look, you know, the void that's there right now is kind of a bottomless pit of inhumane kind of events with civilians and children getting killed, so i can't imagine a scenario where it's worse than what we have now. so, no, i don't have any concerns about that. i think these are all for u.s. leadership here and i think we've got to get russia and obviously iran and i think the next thing the administration and congress ought to be talking about is sanctions so we can actually start, you know, getting to the next step in this region. >> i have to leave it there, it was a good conversation. democratic congressman, john delaney, thank you for talking with me today. >> my pleasure. changing priorities. will the people who elected president trump get behind his missile strike on syria? what the early indications are, coming up.
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welcome back. i'm sheinelle jones here at m msnbc world headquarters in new york. various published reports claim infighting within the white house could lead to a shakeup but a trump administration spokeswoman says that's completely false. more details and reaction to the latest wrinkle in this story coming up in a few minutes. overseas, police in sweden say the man they have arrested for that deadly truck attack is a 39-year-old native of uzbekistan, someone police had on their radar. authorities believe he was at the wheel of the stolen beer truck that struck and killed four pedestrians yesterday before crashing into a department store. and new details today about the global reaction to the air strikes in syria. saudi arabian media reporting that the saudi king spoke with president trump last night and praised him for his, quote, courageous decision. and iraqi prime minister spoke by phone with vice president
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mike pence. that reaction reportedly more divided. let's go to nbc's matt bradley who's in beirut, lebanon, with more. matt, what are you hearing about that phone call with iraq's prime minister? >> reporter: well, thanks, sheinelle. as you know, he had two phone -- there was two phone calls, one with prince salmon of saudi arabia and then with the prime minister of iraq. these might seem like the kind of pro forma boiler plate diplomacy that the white house typically engages in but it's a very important little detail here. donald trump's attack against bashar al assad has thrown a lot of regional leaders for a loop, so the purpose of this phone call was to reassure him that the u.s. is unwavering in its targeting of isis and al qaeda in the middle east, both of whom are major enemies of the iraqi government, which as i mentioned is a u.s. ally. so while they're trying to reassure the iraqi government that they are not going to be changing their perspective,
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changing their policy when it comes to who they're targeting in the middle east, they're also going to be sending a message to so many people who are opposed to bashar al assad, so many middle eastern leaders, they are trying to put bashar al assad on notice. sheinelle. >> matt, how are other world leaders reacting to news of the air strikes? >> reporter: well, there's been fullsome praise for donald trump really throughout the middle east. this is very interesting because, of course, we're talking about middle eastern leaders with very divergent foreign policies who have all really united in their praise for what donald trump just did late this week in syria. now, that's interesting because we're talking about countries like israel, saudi arabia, turkey. they're all saying that this was a good move. a lot of the statements that have come out over the weekend have been to the effect of it's about time. the united states should be targeting bashar al assad just as much as they're targeting isis and al qaeda and other elements who are presumably trying to overthrow them. so it's a very difficult, very complicated formulation where
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the enemy of my enemy is my enemy and now it seems donald trump has thrust the united states into both sides of that. all of these world leaders are going to be looking for their next cues of what donald trump does and where u.s. policy is going. this is a very untested president and a lot of people, a lot of world leaders in europe and the middle east will be waiting to see what he does next. >> you need a flowchart with what you were talking about there. matt bradley, thank you for your time. now to controversial plans for the nuclear threat from north korea. the national security council has presented president trump with two options to potentially use should diplomacy fail. one is placing nuclear weapons inside south korea. the other is killing kim jong-un. joining me now is kelsey davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the arms control association, a nonpartisan group. i wanted to get your thoughts on
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those two options, but first, what do you make of putting nuclear weapons in south korea? >> well, i understand why the trump administration is considering these options. as part of a policy review, it's good to cast a wide net and to become familiar with the costs and consequences of certain activities. but i think putting nuclear weapons back in south korea would be dangerous and overly provocative. first, it sends the wrong message to north korea that the united states is committed to denuclearizing the korean peninsula. also it's unnecessary, because u.s. strategic assets can protect south korea both with our nuclear weapons on submarines and bombers but also through our conventional forces. >> what about the assassination option? how likely is this? >> well, i think that's extremely unlikely. not only is that illegal, but it could also create a very dangerous situation in north korea. in part because north korea has weapons of mass destruction and it's not clear what the command and control procedures for using those weapons are. so taking out the leadership of
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north korea could result in those weapons being transferred on to somebody else in the elites and we don't know what the consequences would be. >> kelsey, after this week's summit in florida, look at this, a report in the stars and stripes makes this point. china is reluctant to go too far due to fears that a north korean regime collapse could lead to a refugee crisis and possibly bring u.s. forces closer to its borders. what change would you expect china to make moving forward? >> i think the united states expects too much of china when it comes to north korea. because china is north korea's largest trading partner and because it shielded north korea from harsher sanctions in the past, washington tends to think that china can deliver a deal on north korea. what i think the new administration really needs to focus on is working with china to enforce the sanctions on the books and coming up with a joint strategy for talks. that should include an effort to try and freeze north korea's nuclear and missile programs and put something on the table as a benefit for north korea if it's
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willing to take those steps. >> when you listen to water cooler talk among my friends and family, here's what scares people. north korea is believed to be developing a long-range missile that can hit the u.s. with kim saying he could test launch one at any time. what is the real timeline for north korea to develop a weapon like this? >> north korea has taken actions over the past years to expand its ballistic missile capabilities but it's still very far from having a missile with a range long enough to target the united states. right now it's unlikely they could even reach guam. but north korea is taking troubling steps that indicate that it's moving in that direction. that's why a new diplomatic initiative, a new strategy and a new policy targeted at freezing those launches to prevent north korea from developing that capability is what the trump administration really needs to be focused on right now. >> do you have a timeline? is it years, months, decades? how long before they can do
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something like that? >> well, they are testing rocket motors right now that would give them a longer range missile and they are displaying those systems in parades. so certainly if north korea starts testing those longer range systems in the next year, then within the next several years, i think that that capability could be something that north korea is able to deploy, albeit not reliably. i think that really underscores the urgency then for a new diplomatic initiative. >> really quickly, some analysts see the syria strike as a direct message to pyongyang. do you agree? >> i think that north korea is watching situations like syria very closely. they certainly learned from the libya case that there can be consequences for giving up your weapons of mass destruction. but i think these cases are very similar and i don't think that kim jong-un will be too worried right now about a preemptive strike. what the united states really needs to be messaging to north korea is that washington is open and considering different talks and different options for a negotiated resolution.
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>> there's some reports out there and i'm wondering if i can get your take about north korea and those long-range missiles. there are reports that perhaps a cyber attack to perhaps stop some of those missiles. do you know anything about that? is there any truth to that in your opinion? >> well, i think it's extremely dangerous to think that we can stop north korea's missiles either with cyber attacks or with missile defense after they're launched. that's why it's imperative to stop north korea from developing those systems where they can directly target and threaten the united states. >> all right. i have to leave it there. kelsey davenport, you know your stuff. thank you for your time today. >> thank you. coming up, the meeting between steve bannon, reince priebus and jared kushner. one of them is really digging in his heels. we'll tell you who it is, next. and next hour, a meeting with assad. cal perry recalls his impressions of president assad and talks about what will happen if he's removed from power. i have asthma...
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tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. >> perspectives on the air strike in syria. david ignatius writes trump has now taken a decisive step that obama resisted but he still faces a dilemma of how to bring political change to a syria shattered by six years of civil war. former assistant secretary of state elliott abrams writes surely this new image of a president willing to act will affect their conversations about north korea. vladimir putin will think again about his relations with the united states and will realize that the obama years of passivity are truly over. evan horowitz of the boston globe says the next move depends not just on trump but also an assad. will he dare trump to commit american troops to a new war in the middle east? at this hour we're getting more
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information about a meeting ordered by president trump himself between top advisers steve bannon and jared kushner. nbc can confirm that trump chief of staff reince priebus was also present at the sitdown as bannon and kushner tried to bury the hatchet after weeks of reported infighting. joining me now, the washington examiner's gabby and politico's ben shreckinger. >> gabby, what do you make of this new tidbit that priebus was there too? >> i think priebus is getting closer to being on the chopping block here, despite what the white house has tried to portray. it seems like president trump is extremely unhappy with the infighting that we're seeing between bannon and priebus, which has reached a tipping point at this point. gary cohn and jared kushner his son-in-law and ivanka trump. they have been dubbed the goldman sachs wing of the west wing. then you have steve bannon and
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reince priebus who like to call themselves the originals. sources close to the administration have said repeatedly this week that this has really reached a boiling point where president trump felt that he needed to intervene in order to ensure that his west wing leadership is able to sustain a period of difficulty going forward and that he can keep them in place and in power until they are able to reach some legislative accomplishments. >> ben, what do you think? we've seen all of this reporting over the last 72 hours. >> i think that, one, the thakt that it's come out that priebus is there shows that he and his allies continue to want to show that he is in the game still, even as rumors swirl that he'll soon be out. it shows that he and bannon have continued to be the sort of odd bedfe bedfellows. they come from rivaling parts of the republican party but have this shotgun marriage of convenience where they both feel threatened by the influence of jared kushner.
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now with the arrival of ivanka trump, that only -- in the west wing, that only can strengthen jared's hand and gary cohn's hand and it could be close to the end of the bannon/priebus era in the trump administration. >> gabby, what about sources close to bannon that tell nbc he's not going anywhere, he wants to be there to make sure the campaign promises have a chance of becoming reality. but there are votes on capitol hill -- or are there votes to make that a reality? >> i think steve bannon sees himself almost as the gate keeper of president trump's campaign promises and that is why he has dug in his heels and remained in the west wing, even as he continues to come under fire and is kind of in the middle of this ideological war with jared kushner and gary cohn. i think it was interesting what ben was saying about him and reince priebus becoming strange bedfellows, uniting together to
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make sure that they have a sense of job security if jared kushner pushes for one of them to be ousted. i do think that he has continued to push president trump even in the absence of being in certain meetings that have been important over the last week to stay on top of his agenda, to continue to pursue the policy items that he put forward on immigration, on health care and whatnot. we really saw this reach the boiling point when the health care debacle occurred. you had sources telling us that jared kushner was pushing for president trump to be reaching out to democrats to try and broker a deal there, while steve bannon and reince priebus were advising the president to absolutely not reach across the aisle and to negotiate with the house freedom caucus and more conservative republicans who were holding back. >> so who do we point to, the fact that it failed and this didn't happen. i'll let you both weigh in on that. >> well, i think the strategy that we've seen after following this debacle with president trump saying he is reaching out to democrats but at the same
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time has been holding these closed door negotiations with conservative members really shows that he's in the middle of this war with his aides. he's kind of being pulled in both directions. so it's going to be really interesting going forward to see which side prevails, because in this west wing, in this white house particularly, there isn't room for, you know, compromise between those two wings. it's either going to be bannon and reince priebus who come out on top or jared kushner and gary cohn. >> ben, what about the folks who got him elected. you wrote about the reactions of alt-right kbrugroups to the syr strikes. president trump carried this america first throughout the campaign but they have seen some of his priorities change in realtime. >> i think that's indicative of the jared kushner/ivanka trump/gary cohn wing of the
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white house. it was steve bannon that was the standard bearer of trump's base to make the most noise online but trump is figuring out how to govern. he's clearly trying different approaches and it's possible that he ends up taking on much more of a moderate deal-making approach in a way that does really alienate his initial base. but if he finds that that's the way that he's able to notch up what he considers wins, if that's the way that he's able to pass a new health care bill, i think that he is very likely to go down that path. >> gabby, i think it's interesting, "the washington post" detailed senior officials explaining that the presidencies himself as a visual learner and those images of children suffering in syria prompted this action. it's an insight as to what may move him or direct his decision-making if you buy that that was his catalyst for action. >> no, i think that's absolutely true about this president and one of the most unique qualities
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about him and his administration. if you were there watching that rose garden press conference with the jordanian king earlier this week when julie pace from a.p. asked him what his reaction was to the chemical attack in syria, it was really evident and obvious that this president is affected by what he sees. you know, we've known this all along. this is a president who the first thing he does in the morning and the last thing he does in the evening is turn on television to see how his administration, how his record is being portrayed, his decisions and whatnot. so i think he is absolutely a visual learner and somebody who really takes into account how he is being portrayed and then makes -- goes out and makes a decision based on whether or not he wants to change what the current depiction of him is. >> ben, i want to squeeze in one more question here. you have lindsey graham, you have senator graham, you have john mccain, a lot of people saying, you know what, they agree with this decision. in some ways it seems like a 1
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yan f -- 180 for them. what do we make of that? >> this is something for john mccain and lindsey graham, their foreign policy, they are harsh, harsh critics of obama's nonintervention in syria, so so it shows this is a high priority for them. and that trump, you know, is someone who can defy expectations. there's a very good chance incomes week lindsey graham and john mccain will hammer him on his russia ties or something else. but this syria air strike has been popular with large parts of the establishment in both parties. >> have to live it there. thank you for your time today. >> thanks for having us. the nation's improving job picture over the first three months of the year. how much president does president trump deserve and will continue?
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two big takeaways from the march jobs report. first, unemployment rate dipping down to 4.5%, the low of in a
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decade. 98,000 jobs added in the month. well below expectations. the number not off seen in the last year. here to bring it down is senior fellow on budget and policy priorities. good afternoon to you. >> good afternoon. thanks for the invitation. >> absolutely. you'll get an a if you can make this plane. >> i'll do my best. >> let's start with this. 4.5% unemployment rate. why did it come with weaker total job numbers? >> well, because they come from two different surveys. the one that gives you the number of jobs, you go to workplaces, to firms, to establishments and say how many people work here? you can figure out who is unemployed by asking firms and establishments who is working there. for that you have to go to households. so we have an establishment survey and household survey. so it is a different survey. every month you're not going to
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get exactly the same results from both surveys. >> you worked for vice president biden. how are they being interpreted at the white house and how should we interpret the numbers? >> the white house is backing away from that 98,000 number you mentioned, the payroll jobs number. as you suggested that came in below expectations. but in fact, the underlying trend is strong. any president will always take credit for that. the question on most people's minds, is there any valid way in which the trump administration could claim credit for this very low unemployment rate. and the answer of that is no. the economy is just percolating along with the momentum that he inherited. what is kind of strange is a month or two ago you heard him say i inherited a mess. that was wrong then and obviously wrong now. >> every month for years now has had positive job growth. the critics keep pointing to hourly earnings and labor participation as serious problems.
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are there actions the public or private sector can take, or are we in a new normal? >> i don't accept anything like a new normal. it is a really important question. there are pockets of this country. not trivial pockets. not just here or there. where globalization, technology, weak labor markets have left people behind. and policymakers need to take direct action, like direct job creation, bring opportunity to those places. it's interesting you should ask that because i testified in congress last month on these points. i tried to be very direct how important such direct interventions are. >> you're a democrat. so how would you grade president trump so far on the economy? >> well, i wouldn't give him a high grade at all on the economy. in fact, it would be a low one. not only has he not legislated any of the sorts of things that would help, he has gotten behind proposals that would be hurtful. taking down obamacare and cutting medicaid 25%, his
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proposed budget, cuts all kinds of problems that help the left behind people i was just talking about. i guess the only good thing is their inept attitude is such they haven't been able to legislate any of these ideas. >> i thought we were leaving on an upnote. >> that is an up net. >> thanks for joining us. richard lui continues our coverage next hour. he will talk to caliperry about his extraordinary meeting with syria's he president, bashar assad. have a good day. from the first moment you met it was love at first touch and all you wanted to do was surround them in comfort and protection that's why only pampers swaddlers is the #1 choice of hospitals to wrap your baby in blanket-like softness and premium protection mom: "oh hi baby" so all they feel is love
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